Monday, May 15, 2006

Anti-SSM Dwindling Party

Are we to suppose that the current -- and almost assuredly last-gasp -- anti-same-sex-marriage amendment try will die on legislative procedure? We have returned to Boston and look at the recent Bay Windows, in which a powerful legislator suggests just that.

Earlier in the week, House Majority Leader John Rogers revealed that he had smartened up and would no longer push to stop future same-sex marriages here. In BW, he lays out several possible ways that the amendment could fail on its first try at a Constitutional Convention (Con Con).

This would be despite the super-low bar of only 25% of the 200 member General Court (50 legislators) voting to let the amendment proceed. The anti forces could then sit in their caves bemoaning how they were tricked again, much as Red Sox fans used to spend their off seasons.

We could brag that we have predicted the defeat of this amendment, either by the legislator or the voters, many times. While we have done that here, it doesn't make us prophetic, just modestly observant.

Rogers notes that this issue has become "emotionally exhausting" for legislators here. We would add that in various versions in sundry ways it has lost multiple times.

At the same time, over 8,000 gay couples have wed here. People see that the hysteria predicting terrible things was jive. They know or are related to same-sexual couples and see that they are at least as well adjusted and good for society as straight ones are. It is difficult to demonize the ordinary unless you are Stephen King.

Similarly, legislators are not blind to the polls that show support for SSM here has gone from way below half to well above. Backing the stripping of existing rights in the face of popular acceptance is political self-mutilation.

Rogers also points out that our system does not compel legislators to attend a Con Con. If fewer than 100 show, there is no quorum. They can talk, but not conduct business. If the amendment does not pass the Con Con this year and also next, it dies.

As several of his colleagues who have switched from favoring such an amendment, Rogers claims to have matured. SSM friendly Rep. Liz Malia says she is willing to take him and others at their word. "Maybe I’m just too impressionable about it but I think a lot of people, when they’ve really thought about it, have made a lot of movement to, if not outright supporting [marriage equality], at least deciding that the tone and tenor and the motivation for the movement against marriage — they’re not comfortable with it."

That's a very gracious way of putting it. You might look at it another way -- they pushed anti-SSM when they figured it helped them and dropped it when it would hurt them.

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